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Reminiscence activities provide a way for caregivers or care managers of people with dementia to learn more about them as individuals and begin to see them beyond dementia. Compared to different activities like music, reading, task-oriented, activities that increase live social interaction with the senses have the most impact on effect in persons with dementia.
Reminiscence therapy is a treatment that uses all the senses — sight, touch, taste, smell, and sound — to help people with dementia remember events, people and places from their past lives. As part of the therapy, caregiver or care managers may use objects in various activities to help individuals with a recall of memories. This can give seniors with dementia a feeling of success and confidence because they are still able to recall and have success with some activities.
Reminiscence therapy can include simple activities, such as conversation, as well as more advanced clinical therapies to help bring memories from the distant past into present awareness. Storytelling about past events they recall through the senses can help people with dementia feel less isolated and more connected to the present, experts say.
Some activities the can activate memory in different parts of the brain and help individuals with dementia to reminisce
- Looking through photos and keepsakes of prior holidays. Photographs are keepsakes because they bring back memories that help individuals recall- the place where the photo was taken, who was there, even the occasion where the photo was taken. The visual stimulates the part of the brain that holds that memory. Getting out old albums or high school yearbooks and looking at them with the person who has dementia can stimulate good feelings and a time when they were happy and safe.
- Listen to their favorite Hanaukka or Christmas music. Music memory and emotion are located in the brain right behind our forehead and are the last parts of the brain to atrophy. That’s why reminiscence is recommended with even the most advanced cases of dementia. If you do a quality of life assessment and find music as a form of joy in a person ‘s life, you can bring tambourines’ shakers or bells or use headphones that play their favorite music. Alive Inside is a famous example of this.
- Smell different scents and taste favorite foods. Our sense of smell is embedded in our brain next to memory. So some activities that might work with elders with dementia are making scent cards or bringing scent bringing their favorite food to taste like Hanukka Cookies decored holiday Christmas tree cupcakes have them help prepare simple recipes
- Touch is another sense that evokes reminiscence is all of us but is really helpful with Dementia. Knitting, sewing or other crafts in a quality of life assessment show a past skill. Just touching yarn or fabric can bring back memory A walk in the woods or the beach or bringing them to the client with dementia, with a shell from the shore sand, seaweed or keep, bark from a tree, pine needles, pine cones can replicate the touch of these places